Why Do Diesel Fans Love Ford’s 7.3-Liter Power Stroke Diesel?

Sure, the new 6.7-liter Power Stroke Diesel makes lots, and lots, and lots of power. But ask most diesel fans which engine they’d rather have, and it’s probably the 1999 to 2003 Ford Power Stroke diesel that was fitted in Super Duty trucks. This engine has gone down in lore as likely the most reliable diesel engine ever put in a heavy-duty truck. What makes it so good?

The 7.3-liter Power Stoke is reliable

Red 1999 Ford F-350 parked in a parking lot
1999 Ford F-350 | Wikimedia Commons

The 7.3-liter Power Stroke came in the first generation of new Super Duty trucks, the F-250 and F-350. With durable internal parts, but not a complicated emission control system, they ran better than previous Ford diesels, according to parts supplier Prosource Diesel. Some of the trouble areas are relatively mild, too. Prosource says that the oil pans can rust, and the camshaft position sensor can fail, but those are relatively easy repairs.

Motor Trend agrees, and says that the 1999 to 2003 Power Stroke works because of its simplicity. Motor Trend says you can likely get 500,000 miles out of one of these engines if they’re maintained properly. It’s made of old-school cast-iron, for the block and heads, which helps reliability. This version of the engine also had an upgraded intercooler that helped them not only run cooler, but produce more power.

How powerful is the 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel?

For its day, the 7.3-liter Power Stroke made gobs of power. While 235 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque don’t touch a modern diesel, those are still respectable numbers for a big truck diesel. The next generation of Power Stroke, the 6.4-liter, made 350 horsepower and 650 lb-ft. But, those engines didn’t seem to last as well as the 7.3.

However, there are fixes for that power. Open any aftermarket diesel catalog and you’ll see dozens of parts to upgrade the 7.3 liter to modern horsepower and torque numbers. Parts like new turbos, intakes and exhausts can help these diesels make slightly more power, while modern injectors can really boost the power.

How much should you pay for a 7.3?

7.3-liter V8
Ford 7.3-liter Super Duty V8 engine | Ford

Old trucks are, well, old, and the 7.3-liter trucks you want were made between 1999 and 2003. They’re priced welllike the 20-year-old trucks they are, and many have high miles. A quick search of Autotrader reveals that you can find them on the used market. Clapped-out examples with nearly 500,000 miles are about $10,000, but that does speak to their reliability. Nicer versions with lower miles will run from $18,000 to $25,000, depending on the condition.

What is the difference between the new and old Power Strokes?

2023 Ford F-450 Super Duty
2023 Ford F-450 Super Duty

Ford now makes two versions of its Power Stroke diesel, and they both make incredible amounts of power for the upcoming 2023 Super Duty. The regular 6.7-liter Power Stroke makes 475 horsepower and 1,050 lb-ft of torque, while the High Output 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 Diesel now makes the monstrous 500 horsepower and 1,200 lb-ft. Those two engines both trump the gas powered engines offered, which come in 6.8-liter and 7.3 versions that make 430 horsepower and 485 lb-ft or 405 horsepower and 445 lb-ft, respectively.

What that means is that the new trucks with the High Output version can now tow up to 40,000 pounds and carry up to 8,500 pounds of payload.

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